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54. Life = One Big Constant Change

March 16, 2012

Guest post today by the fabulous Ann Lam:

spilled paint, spilled paint, change  change changeLet’s say you make the big life change that you’ve always wanted. You’ve quit the job you hated. You’re ready to commit and decide to tie the knot. You’ve traded in your knitting needles for paint brushes. But now what? The excitement of the new beginning is wearing off and what you envisioned as the path to happiness is bumpier than you expected. Uncomfortable thoughts start to peck their way into your stream of consciousness. Is this better than what I had before? What in the world have I done?! Almost two years ago, I decided to start my life over again in San Francisco. I quit my job, sold or gave away all the furniture in my apartment in New York, and started driving west. My family and friends back east couldn’t understand why I would leave a steady job and a full network of contacts (that could eventually lead to higher-paying, even steadier jobs). But I wanted a new environment in which I could shape a new identity. And so I got to work teaching yoga, writing articles, freelancing as a violinist—doing all the things I wanted to do but didn’t before. I kept a busy schedule. There was never enough time in the day…or energy to give equally to all my projects. Depending on the circumstance (i.e., where the money was coming in from), I would choose my priorities. After a while I began to stress over the many hats I was wearing. In one day I might teach a vinyasa flow class, play a wedding gig, and then edit an article for a print deadline. I was tiring of my multiple identities—literally. “Uh-oh. What now? What does this mean?” I thought. And so began a period of doubt. Of limbo, when I kept doing what I was doing (i.e. everything) because I didn’t know what else to do. Except I really did know. I knew I needed to change yet again. I had forgotten that humans are always in motion, growing, changing—the only constant acknowledged in Buddhism. I doubted my gut, because in my mind I had just recently undergone a drastic career and identity change. To change paths yet again or cut back on my projects seemed irresponsible, fickle, flaky. Unluckily or luckily for me, my body decided to change on its own, without asking my permission. An imbalance of hormones caused me to become very sick. I had to stop everything—it was a struggle to walk or sit up for long periods of time. And when I started on the path to recovery, I could not have guessed how long it would take to return to normal. That time needed to heal ended up being a blessing. My illness forced me into considering alternatives to the stressful lifestyle I had been leading, something that I might not have been brave or wise enough to have done otherwise. I am learning that big changes take time and once in motion don’t quickly settle into stability. Revolutions are followed by an adjustment period naturally full of trial and error. For every Constitution there is an Articles of Confederation. And so I’ve had to rewrite my “life” game plan. But that’s OK. In fact, it’s NORMAL. Change is constant. Revision is normalizing. Sometimes this is easy to forget. And we all need reminders, especially when lost in the thick of it.

Ann is a writer and editor for Untapped Cities. Follow Ann (@annylam81) on Twitter and Instagram for daily updates and inspiration.

adjustment revision reflecting vision change change change

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2012 4:20 pm

    Definitely could relate to this one!

  2. March 16, 2012 6:44 pm

    “Big changes take time” – Something we should all remind ourselves regularly!

  3. Jo-Ann Carson permalink
    March 16, 2012 7:03 pm

    Great Post. It hit home on a lot of points (the trying to go in too many directions at once, and the state of limbo that arrives after you’ve taken a leap.).
    Best of luck in your new endeavors.
    Jo-Ann

    • March 19, 2012 12:52 am

      Thanks, Jo-Ann, for the good luck! Limbo is a state that I am always trying to feel “okay” about. I’m finding that it feels more okay when the weather is nice. 🙂 Take care!

  4. March 17, 2012 3:41 am

    Change is a given for all of us… sometimes hard, other times easy. Be blessed! 🙂

  5. March 19, 2012 1:56 am

    It’s interesting how things work out. I was reading through comments on the recent DampSquid post, replied to your post, and decided to check-out your blog. This is the first post I’ve read, and you’ve already captivated my attention. I too have gone through several years of illness due to stress (unfortunately, or fortunately, when I was 18-21 in fact), and I also had to learn to take it easy after that. I had to learn…. after that. I did not immediately know. At first I was exceptionally cautious to not over-load myself. Gradually I did more and more, and eventually over-loaded myself… oddly enough, not with the same kind of stress though, which was the next lesson: Large challenges in life come in all different forms, and it’s how you deal with the changes – good or bad changes – desired or not – self-inflicted or not. Because, you’re right, change is constant. Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks we end-up faced with is that we are not who we though we were… and it seems to be a re-occurring realization.
    Lately I’ve also been feeling the urge to branch out in many directions and try to live a fulfilling life. I now hope to work part-time at my “career” choice (which I would enjoy) while also working on some more creative endeavors. First, I have a masters to finish which seems all consuming, most of the time. I’m still day-dreaming of the chance to pursue other interests, and find that happier medium. I’m very inspired by your life change, and am glad that you are sharing your journey with others. That alone is making a difference. It has to me.
    Keep re-balancing, gently, and listen to yourself – that’s my advice (though I’m sometimes the worst one for taking it! 😉
    Thank you again.

    • March 19, 2012 2:07 am

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply – just to clarify – while this blog is all about change – this particular post was a guest post from Ann Lam (Check out her stuff at untappedcitiessf.com). I’m grateful that I haven’t had to struggle with illness – but whatever the issues are, I think your advice is well-heeded – keep balancing, keep listening (and keep sharing your journey!)

      • March 19, 2012 2:14 am

        Wow. How did I miss the first line of the post! I think it was the blue paint on the sidewalk… 😉
        It almost figures, as this is the LONGEST reply I have ever left! lol.
        Thanks for directing me to the correct author. I’ll have to forward the message to her.
        I’ll still return to read your other posts though 😉
        Thanks again!

      • March 19, 2012 2:17 am

        Back at ya! Happy Sunday!

  6. March 21, 2012 4:46 pm

    Amen!

  7. March 23, 2012 6:21 pm

    Recover soon.

    • March 24, 2012 5:35 am

      Thank you. I have to say – ever since I wrote this post (and ate those donuts) haven’t wanted even one. Now lets talk about ice cream….

  8. March 27, 2012 8:40 pm

    In the middle of that process myself. Lots of bumps, surprises, challenges and doubts, but I’ve never been so happy. Feel better!

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